Modern(ist) Objects? The ‘objet trouvé’ in the 18th and 19th centuries

Session Convenors

Molly Duggins, National Art School, Sydney

Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh

Session Abstract

Marcel Duchamp’s series of ‘readymades’, particularly the infamous Fountain of 1917, are often viewed as heralding a watershed moment in the history of art. Produced between 1913 and 1921, Duchamp utilised found and appropriated objects, often drawn from everyday life, to redefine and question the very nature of art. Yet the art historical emphasis on the revolutionary nature of Duchamp’s practice overlooks the productive possibilities offered by a longer and more fluid notion of the found object, or objet trouvé. Indeed, found objects have a long and venerable history stretching back well before the advent of Modernism, being used in the production of an array of cultural practices throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Transformed by aesthetic and material processes such as display, translation, and adaptation, both everyday and extraordinary found objects proliferate in collections, collages, still lives, manuscripts, and assemblages made throughout this period.

This session accordingly seeks to examine the expanded field of the found object and the readymade by exploring these earlier manifestations. We invite proposals for papers on topics including, but not limited to:

  • souvenirs
  • acts of acquisition
  • the collection
  • historiographies of the found object
  • mass production and/or commodification
  • fragments, scraps, excerpts, and pieces
  • appropriation
  • dialogues of production and consumption
  • circulation and exchange of found objects.

To offer a paper
Please email your paper proposal direct to the session convenors, details above.

Provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because it will appear online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 5 November 2018

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